The Parable of the Two Turtles

Here's a follow-up to my parable of the snapping turtle, which also happens to star the same cantankerous reptile as the first one.

As a quick recap, as I drove home from work one morning, I saw a big turtle in the road. Following my instinct to help slow turtles across busy roads, I stopped to move it across. To my surprise, the snapper was very aggressive and quite resistant to my attempts to help it. I determined that to try any further would put my hands and fingers at unnecessary risk. So I let him be (I later figured out a couple of possible ways I could have done the job, but it was too little, too late.) Unfortunately, the next time I saw the snapper was as a bloody and mangled mess in the same spot where I left him. Lesson learned, for both of us.

About a week later, I came across another turtle, this one of the more docile Box turtle species. Again, I stopped, and met no resistance as I picked him up and moved him to the other side. He didn't say thank you, but I'm sure he thought it.

This last weekend, I thought about the two separate experiences, and found a relation between them.

Why did the snapper resist with aggression, whereas the box turtle remained calm and passive? The answer lies in their respective natures. Snapping turtles are, by nature, aggressive and mean; box turtles are, by nature, calm and quiet. In part, each turtle's nature had a direct effect on the eventual outcome of their ventures across the road.

Now, the interpretation of the parable: Some people are like the snappers, others like the box turtle. I won't go into the pros and cons of aggressive or passive personalities, because that's kind of boring to me. What I find interesting is the relation to human nature.

I think most of us, when it comes to the Gospel, tend to start out like the snapping turtle: resistant and aggressive. And Satan would have us believe that those are unchangeable characteristics of our natures. But scripture teaches that we must put off the natural man; in other words, we must resist those parts of our nature which make us react aggressively or negatively to the Lord and His ways.

We must become as the box turtle- calm, collected, and accepting of what the Lord has to offer. When He attempts to give us gentle nudges or carry us through trouble, we would do well to be like the little box turtle and accept it graciously.

Is this change possible? Can we change our natures so? King Benjamin says it's possible: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (Mosiah 3:19)

And we have an excellent example of that change, in the very people Benjamin was teaching: "And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2)

The box turtle was saved because it was submissive and patient and willing to submit to the help I offered. The snapper perished because he stuck to his nature and resisted. If we are to be saved, we must change our aggressive and resistant and independent nature and recognize that we are dependent on the Lord for all things and must be meek in accepting His will.

Okay, so it's a bit of a rough analogy- I know the turtles probably weren't consciously thinking about what I was doing, and were relying on instinct. But I hope it makes some sense.


Tamara said…
Wonderful analogy, love! So, is it possible that even for turtles...opposites attract? Hmmmm....and their children are a bit of both...sometimes passive and other times aggresive? That seems to be my case. But you are right in that it is ultimatly up to each one of US to make that change. Resources are always available, but it is up to us to make the first move, and ask for His help from above.

Hope your arm gets to feeling better soon!
Julina said…
A good sequel. Thanks for the reminder that "it's in my nature" or "I was born that way..." isn't good enough - and is not a recipe for lasting happiness.

And I'm glad you got to save one turtle, at least.

Here's to the box turtle in all of us :-)
Sarah Lambson said…
I am actually really impressed by this analogy. I really like it! And I love turtles. You definitely need to keep this in mind for future talks. It's like the parable of the pickle. It came about randomly enough but holds a world of meaning.

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